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26 May 2020, 19:48 HRS IST
  • PTI
    • Bookworm
  • Partition through the eyes of an ex-British commander
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  • Zafri Nofil
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    veteran British commander looks at the Partition from a military perspective, analysing the thinking of and pressures on the politicians, administrators and soldiers of 70 years ago and how the violence could have been prevented.

    Barney White-Spunner describes the partition as a "tragedy that was, because the British had stayed on too long, probably unavoidable by 1947 but the violence and loss of life could have been reduced enormously had proper use been made of the armed forces".

    In 2008, White-Spunner was the military commander of British and Coalition troops in Basrah and the three other provinces designated by the Coalition authority in Baghdad as constituting the southeastern sector of Iraq.

    He says he has written "Partition: The Story of Indian Independence and the Creation of Pakistan in 1947" from a soldier's perspective.

    "It does not purport to be a full history of Indian independence and the birth of Pakistan. Such a study would be a lifetime's work, fill many volumes and is correctly best left to professional historians," he says.

    "Rather what I have attempted to do, as someone who has played a small part in British interventions around the world, is to explore the thinking of and pressures on the politicians, administrators and soldiers of 70 years ago, and the effect their subsequent actions had on the people of the Indian subcontinent," he adds.

    According to White-Spunner, given his background, he has a better understanding of the British players in this tragedy than he does of their Indian and Pakistani counterparts.

    "I don't hold with the view that only Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi authors should write about 1947. What happened is as much part of British history - and if British authors don't write about it then the UK will not face up to what happened. In particular, the military aspects needed researching and writing about in detail - they were so fundamental to what happened - and I am pretty well qualified to do that," White-Spunner told PTI.

    It took him about 28 months of researching and 8 months of writing to finish

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